Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Soccer: Spoonley shaping as Phoenix keeper for week one

Ernie Merrick was facing a goalkeeping conundrum for his side's opening game of the A-League season against the Brisbane Roar at the Cake Tin on October 13. Photo / Getty Images.
Ernie Merrick was facing a goalkeeping conundrum for his side's opening game of the A-League season against the Brisbane Roar at the Cake Tin on October 13. Photo / Getty Images.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is set to do the Wellington Phoenix a favour by not selecting backup goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley in his squad for next month's international friendlies.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has been stripped of two goalkeepers, Glen Moss (All Whites duty) and Lewis Italiano (ankle injury), as they build towards their A-League season-opener against Brisbane in Wellington on October 13.

It was expected that Spoonley, who sat behind Moss in this month's OSN Cup in Saudi Arabia, would head away with the All Whites for their friendly matches against yet-to-be-determined opposition.

But Herbert said today (weds) he would use the trip to select another goalkeeper to back up Moss, which leaves Team Wellington's Spoonley free to be loaned to the Phoenix on a short-term deal for their season-opener, which falls inside a Fifa international window.

Moss is clearly the All Whites' No 1 keeper but Herbert needs to find backup following the retirement of Mark Paston.

Spoonley and Jake Gleeson have accumulated a handful of appearances for the All Whites in the past two years, while New Zealand under-23 keeper Michael O'Keeffe and Auckland City's Tamati Williams are also in the mix.

Williams has been training with the Phoenix recently and the club had hoped to arrange a short-term loan for him to play in the A-League opener against Brisbane but Auckland City weren't keen given they're appearing in the Club World Cup in December and didn't want to risk him.

"We may take somebody different [to back up Moss],'' Herbert said of his plans for next month. "I brought Tamati Williams in for the New Zealand A game against the Phoenix [last Sunday]. He came on and had 20-odd minutes and it's just good to get him in the environment and let him have a taste of what that's about. He's a chance.

"The other two (Gleeson and O'Keeffe) are a chance. But I probably would take a different keeper. Unless something went wrong, Glen will be the No 1 and Jacob's been in and around the group a lot so we know what he's like and we may look to this window to take somebody else.''

Spoonley's re-employment will give him another opportunity for the Phoenix after he debuted for the club during an international window last year. Unheralded rookie James McPeake will likely be on the bench against the Roar.

Herbert is expected to name his squad for next month's friendlies in the coming week with the opposition likely to be countries from north or central America in a bid to mimic who the All Whites will face in November's home-and-away playoff with a World Cup spot on the line.

With two games to go in the Concacaf qualifying group, Mexico are firming as the likely fourth-place finishers and New Zealand's opponent for the intercontinental playoff. Honduras or Panama are the other possibilities.

Meanwhile, All Whites midfielder Dan Keat made a successful return from a hamstring injury during the weekend when he played 20 minutes from the bench for his Swedish second division side Falkenbergs FF during a 4-0 win over Landskrona.

Keat is one of a handful of candidates to partner Michael McGlinchey in the centre of midfield for the All Whites but missed the OSN Cup due to injury.

- APNZ

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